Jerode Rodgers is a Kenwood Brotherhood alumnus and spoken word artist who tours the country presenting his performance, Jeronimo Speaks. He is currently coordinating the Brotherhood Mosaic: Elements of Art festival. For more information, see the events page.
Jeronimo Speaks is blazing a trail across the US using the emotive power of Spoken Word. The a Chicago born poet, real name Jerode Rodgers has been steadily rising in popularity since he first appeared on the Spoken Word and Poetry circuit in 2010. With hard hitting and illuminating poetry inspired by his observations and life experiences, he has expanded his following and dazzled critics, so much so that last year, Chicago’s P.O.E.T Organisation named him Spoken Word Artist of the year. This Year, he was again nominated for the Poet of the Year, this time by the Midwest Urban Music Awards. Considering he has only been performing for three years and has already achieved so much, it is not hard to tell this young man has something special. I am Hip-Hop caught up with Jeronimo Speaks to find out what the word really is.
Q. Jeronimo, in the three years you’ve been writing and performing you have received a number of accolades and awards. What do you think the secret to your success is?
I bring a raw and gritty feel, unseen for a very long time to the poetry community. My work ethic is unmatched, I grind 24⁄7 no matter the weather, no matter the circumstances, I stay consistent and bring it every time I touch a stage or a mic, plus I just genuinely love what I do.
Q. What is it about the art that speaks to you?
Poetry is important to me because I feel like it is the unsung language of those with out a voice, it allows those who usually would not be heard to be the centre of attention, it allows the otherwise quiet to scream till their hearts content, it allows a flow of information to travel to ears otherwise would never have heard it and last but not least it touches hearts in a manner and depth that nothing else could ever do in my opinion. Spoken word inspires and give an outlook on life that relates to peoples everyday struggles, it makes them feel, it makes the audience have emotions that they haven’t felt in a while, depending on the poet they have the power to invoke any emotion they desire upon there listeners, and the fans love it.
Q. What influenced you to transition from writing raps to creating spoken word pieces?
I was first introduced to spoken word in high school at an open mic [event] I did not know that spoken word was so entertaining. I thought all poetry was written in old English or performed in a boring monotone type of style. so when I first saw it and heard it performed like it was being done, I was instantly in awe and was a fan of the culture and knew ever since than I would be an intricate part of it.
Q. In your opinion, what specific elements differentiate spoken word from rap and poetry? And how powerful or inspirational do you think spoken word is in comparison?
In my opinion spoken word is the art of performance, and poetry is the written language of the art, and rap is the art of putting the words on a beat to a rhythm. In comparison i think all forms of the art can be equally as powerful, it just depends on the listener, reader, or audience and how they are affected by the experience.
Q. I absolutely love 500 Words of your EP Psalms of The Streets, which I expected to be focused on Christianity. Do you think secular and non secular pieces work together on one compilation?
I feel like secular and non secular tracks go hand in hand, it gives a more worldly stand point and a broader overview of life and religion. I take the stance that you should give both sides of every point you are trying to get across so the listeners can have a full understanding and come up with a complete opinion.
Q. Does it effect your Christian and non Christian listeners?
There are critics in everything we do, when it comes to this art there will always be listeners who are narrow minded, but in all the majority of my listeners receive my message in a positive and enlightening way, and are inspired by what I have to give.
Q. “We cool” describes your own personal relationship with God. Do you think that our generation generally has a good enough relationship with God?
My generation typically take the stand point of knowing that there is a god, and knowing there is a heaven and hell, but don’t know how to start and keep a relationship with God, the people who have the answers are not where the people who need the answers are at. There is a huge language gap between the church and the streets and because of this my generation from my area usually don’t have any real form of a relationship with God, sad but true
Q. How important do you feel it is for artists to create conscious work that highlights their realities?
It is very important for artist to be as honest and real as possible in there artistry, because I feel that its what fans listen and watch us for, to bring a truth to there reality and relate to what they may be going threw at the current time, or we can offer an escape from an harsh reality to a pleasant dream. It is very important to be conscious but also just as important to be entertaining.
Q. So far in your career you have created a spoken word album and an EP. What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on my spoken word EP “unspoken hip hop” and currently working on my hip hop ep “untitled” , I am travelling all over the country as an spoken word artist, I have performed in places like New York, St. Louis, Benton Harbor Michigan, Detroit Michigan, Memphis, Milwaukee etc.
Q. Do you think people in the UK could relate to your work?
I feel no matter the city, state, ghetto, or country people have similar if not the same issues and my word relate to all of them. We are all the same just in different regions of the world.
To out more about Jeronimo Speaks and check out his spoken word visit http://www.jeronimospeaks.